This week’s words: Pitter-patter, as poor as, Pod, Psychiatrist.
We’re probably all familiar with the ‘pitter-patter’ of tiny feet; a reference to the sound a toddler’s bare feet make on a hard surface. And the same word is used to describe gentle rainfall. We wouldn’t, of course, use it to describe the sound of clog dancers, galloping horses, or hailstone hitting a corrugated iron roof.
But are there different, equally effective ways to bring to life the specific noise made by those bare feet? We could try ‘the slap, slap, slap of bare feet across a wooden floor’, but that could equally apply to adult movement. Sometimes, a word is used consistently because no other word describes an action quite as accurately or evocatively. I suspect that’s the case here. Unless, of course, you can suggest something better?
Simile: as poor as:
Poverty is a worldwide issue, but ‘as poor as a church mouse’ restricts the phrase to Christian communities. Dirt is as ubiquitous as poverty, so ‘poor as dirt’ is acceptable regardless of the society or community in question. Are there better similes that don’t rely on regional or cultural references? In the UK, for example, we could use ‘poor as a benefit claimant’, but this could cause some dispute, as there are people who truly believe (mistakenly) that claimants of social benefits are actually better off than workers. Also, there are nations where such benefits are unheard of. How about, ‘poor as a beggar’, ‘poor as an orphan waif’, ‘poor as a slum-dweller’, ‘poor as Bob Cratchit’? Of course, the last one requires the reader’s knowledge of the character from Charles Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’, and I suspect there would be objections to the other suggestions, as well. Perhaps you can come up with something more appropriate?
Similes to avoid because they’re clichés?
as poor as a church mouse, poor as dirt
Collective Nouns: Pod
pod of dolphins, peas, porpoises, seals, walruses, whales, whiting.
Anything else come in pods? Beans and most other pulses, though the peas seem to have bagged the imagination here. How about a ‘pod of podiatrists’, maybe a ‘pod of paediatricians’, or perhaps a ‘pod of popes’?
Delusional Dictionary: Psychiatrist: an individual whose mental problems are transferred to the patient to boost the confidence of the practitioner; someone who believes everyone is in need of their services, regardless of evidence; a person deeply influenced by the theories of pseudo-scientists in the same field.
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